Today Jews around the world are marking Yom Kippur, the holy Day of Atonement, a day culminating the ten days of repentance which began last week with the Jewish New Year, a day of holiness and retrospection for Jews, a day of fasting as Jews repeatedly pray for forgiveness for past misdeeds while asking for a good year.
As they do so, many will also recall that horrible day 40 years ago as word began to trickle out about a surprise attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria, backed by other Arab and Muslim nations; an attack meant to complete the task of wiping Israel off the map and to drive the Jews into the sea that they failed to do in the June, 1967 Six Day War.
Although Israel ultimately prevailed, albeit with a great loss of life, the Arabs, especially the Egyptians still crow about their victory in the euphemistically labeled October War. (Jews follow a lunar calendar, much of the world goes by the solar Gregorian calendar which dates the first day of the war as October 6, 1973.) A traumatic event for Israel and world Jewry coming just 30 years after one Holocaust and six years after another failed attempt, Israel ultimately recovered, saddened but resilient. And now thriving. In the years since the last war, despite being surrounded by enemies who, ignoring and violating peace treaties and peace entreaties, still vow to eliminate Israel, Israel's population doubled as Russian Jews immigrated to Israel while Communist Russia collapsed and Jews from other countries such as Ethiopia and France and even India continued to stream to Israel and optimistic Israelis continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.
Reducing the socialism of earlier governments, Israels economy grew as it transitioned from an agricultural, socialist economy to a world renowned high tech, more free market one. All of this has made the Israelis happy, happier than the people of the United States, Ireland and New Zealand among others according to the Earth Institute of Columbia University which analyzes such things.
Summing up the situation in the Jerusalem Post, Amotz Asa-El wrote:
Forty years on, Israel's is among the world's strongest currencies, its growth rate is among the world's highest, its unemployment, inflation and interest rates are among the world's lowest, and its innovations are the toast of investors from Tokyo to New York. On top of that, for more than 15 years, Israel has no longer been accepting US civilian aid. These accomplishments belong collectively to Israelis of all persuasions and backgrounds, who meet daily in workplaces where they do together what a seriously divided society could never create.
The same can be said of Israeli culture, which over the past 40 years has seen the previously unthinkable rise of religious authors and filmmakers, symbolized by novelist Haim Sabato, a rabbi and rosh yeshiva who emerged from the war a prize-winning novelist. (snip)
Forty years on, it is clear that Israeli society was not debilitated by the Yom Kippur War and in fact, soon resumed its development in earnest. (snip)
Having left us while the war's trauma was fresh, one feels like updating Ben-Gurion that since his departure:no Arab army again waged war on Israel; there are two peace agreements; the population has more than doubled and the economy more than quadrupled; there are more Jews here than in any other country; the number of Israeli Jews has just crossed, for the first time, the charged figure of 6 million, Soviet Jewry is here, and the Soviet Union is gone; and Israeli society, while varied and complex, remains intact even when the rest of the region is ablaze with civil wars...
As for Egypt and Syria, they're still at war but now each involved in bitter, brutal, vicious civil wars with thousands dead, economies destroyed and millions of refugees created. Other Arab or Muslim nations aren't doing much better.
Sadly, the only thing that unites them is hatred of Israel and tangentially the United States.
Some things never change.